A bunch of people compete in silly games to win obscene amounts of money as affluent people watch them for entertainment. Sounds familiar? No, this is not just the plot of Netflix’s biggest TV series to date Squid Game, but the theme of a reality show inspired by it.
Yes, the streaming giant has announced a 10-episode competition series where 456 participants from around the world will compete for a cash prize of $4.56 million and it’s going to be called Squid Game: The Challenge.
Netflix released a statement proudly announcing that this is going to be the “largest cast and lump cash prize in TV history”. But if you’re worried about the fate of the eliminated contestants following their TV show counterparts, then you can rest assured. Netflix says that the worst fate will be going home empty-handed, which is definitely a step up from a bullet to the head, “Please note: Win or lose, all players will leave unscathed. But if you win, you win big!”
Like the show, players will compete in a series of games inspired by the original Korean show, including some that we’ve not seen before. The contestants will also be able to strategise, form alliances, and eliminate fellow competitors, just like any garden-variety reality competition show.
If you feel unsettled by this being a blatant form of cash grab on the heels of a show that started discussions and debates about the inherent problems of living in a capitalist society, you’re not wrong. The show was an unflinching look at the state of poverty and income inequality in our society, striking a chord with people around the world, despite it being set in South Korea. But the reality show has director and writer Hwang Dong-hyuk’s approval, according to Netflix.
“Squid Game took the world by storm with (director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s) captivating story and iconic imagery,” said Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP of Unscripted and Documentary Series, “We’re grateful for his support as we turn the fictional world into reality in this massive competition and social experiment. Fans of the drama series are in for a fascinating and unpredictable journey as our 456 real-world contestants navigate the biggest competition series ever, full of tension and twists, with the biggest-ever cash prize at the end.”
This is not the first time someone has attempted to host Squid Game-inspired competition series. In late 2021, Abu Dhabi’s Korean Cultural Centre organised a version of the games, without the obscene prize money or the sinister way of eliminating losers, as a bizarre way to introduce Korean culture to the Arab population. Popular YouTuber Mr. Beast, also, hosted an unofficial competition inspired by the show on his channel and garnered over 250 million views and a nod of approval from the show’s director.
Squid Game: The Challenge is going to begin filming in early 2023. Meanwhile, Squid Game, the TV show, has been renewed for a second season.